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How important is post processing?? - Part 1

Arun Mysore
26/06/2018 0 0

I am not telling you whether you have to process your photographs or not. I am just trying to explain the importance of post processing in our photography workflow. Like most of the beginners, with my half baked knowledge, I argued with every other that post processing is not good and ethical. Maybe post processing was something too heavy for me to pick it up right away as a beginner and I covered that by arguing around, only to realize later that post processing is an integral part of the photography workflow. Now every other photograph I post, I post process them except for those pouting ugly selfies which I pose for.

Post processing isn't bad at all if it is done the right way and the right amount. A photojournalist has to present the real photograph from the scene and so he might do minimum to no post processing on his photographs whereas a product photographer who is working for an ad agency might have to rely more on that post processing to enhance and showcase it as the best product in the market, which is not the same most of the times. The general term 'editing' is a controversial word to be used here, rather we can call it as 'post processing' and 'manipulation' depending upon what we intend to do it on the photograph. The process of enhancing the visual appeal of the photograph to make it more presentable is post processing and changing something in the photograph completely is manipulating.

If you are still the SOOC (straight out of camera) guy, you might have to understand couple of things here. The JPEG image which comes out of your camera is still a post processed image to some extent. Post processing is basically any change in the photograph after the exposure is made. During the process of converting the recorded sensor information into an image, your camera would have processed the information available at each pixel to produce a viewable image. Now if you tell me that you are ok with the camera’s JPEG file and you do not want to process it further, it is totally your call but just read this article till the end, you might change your mind!

The iconic landscape photographer Ansel Adams quotes - “Dodging and burning are steps to take care of mistakes God made in establishing tonal relationships.” Post processing exists from the age of films and even beyond but we are very less aware of it since we never had enough chances to know what they did in the gloomy dark rooms. Post processing is a tool to present the image in the way you have pre-visualized the scene. Getting the images right in the scene is always good thing to do but there is still some amount of post processing to be done on your images. The camera, no matter how good it is cannot recreate the exact scene we saw in the field due to a lot of its limitations and so we bank on post processing to get most of the exposure we have in hand.

There are some aspects that we need to understand to know what our camera lack in producing the exact scene we saw. We shall discuss this further in the next part of this article..

In the 2 photographs above, you can clearly see the difference between a processed and a unprocessed image. The first one is a direct JPEG from the RAW file. The second one is a processed RAW file converted into a JPEG. You can see how a flat photograph turns into an interesting frame. You may also notice that the processing is done with different aspects in photograph.

To be continued in part 2…

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